Early in 2014, Cadence9® and FusionSpark Media joined forces to analyze how companies measure the success of content marketing as well as the most important elements that contribute to measuring Key Performance Indicators (KPI) and Return on Investment (ROI) goals. The results were truly enlightening and illuminated how organizations are tracking, measuring and reporting results from content-based marketing initiatives. The findings were first presented at Langley Center for New Media’s 4th Annual Content Marketing Retreat in May, 2014.

From 100 respondents in the marketing industry, we were able to distinguish commonalities between the type of survey taker and how they answered each question. We broke the results into groups of people who ranked themselves as either poor, good or excellent at measuring content marketing results/ROI. Furthermore, we also discovered the key components of how content marketers measure and assess KPIs and ROI.

Statements Based on how Participants Rated Themselves on Content Marketing

  • 90% of those that rated their content marketing activities as “poor” do not have documented goals.
  • 60% who rated their efforts as “good” or “excellent” have documented goals.
Written Content Strategy
  • The majority of respondents (86%) who believe they’re “good” to “excellent” at measuring content marketing have a written content strategy.
  • In comparison, 100% of the respondents claiming that they’re “poor” at measuring content marketing lacked a written content strategy.
Target audience
  • The majority of respondents who are “poor” at measuring results aren’t tailoring content to specific target audiences.
  • 100% of the respondents that are “good” to “excellent” at measuring results report they tailor content to target audiences.
Editorial Calendar
  • The majority of respondents who are “poor” at measuring results aren’t using an editorial calendar.
  • 85% of the respondents who are “good” to “excellent” at measuring content marketing results use an editorial calendar.
  • Marketers who say they’re good to excellent at measuring content marketing results are publishing daily content.
  • Those who say they’re poor at measurement are publishing content weekly or less frequently.
Content Publishing Platform
  • Majority of those rating themselves “good” to “excellent” use a content publishing platform.
  • Majority of those who report they’re “poor” at content marketing don’t use such a platform.
Use More Channels
  • The “good” to “excellent” survey takers reported using 5 to 15 social media channels.
  • Those who claim they’re “poor” at content marketing use less than 5 channels.
  • Only those that rated themselves as “excellent” performers knew the cost of conversion from a lead to the sale … and that was about 10% of the respondents.

Analysis of Measurement Techniques Used for Evaluating KPIs, ROI and Goals

People rated various KPIs as indicators/signs that best generate a Return on Investment for their marketing budget. Results show the top three KPIs that respondents ranked as either poor, good or excellent in generating ROI.
  • Poor – Number of Social Media Followers
  • Good – Amount of Website Traffic
  • Excellent – Quality of Leads
The best type of content that can be used to generate, capture and/or measure a specific KPI.
  • Newsletter (Content) – Best for Event/Webinar Signups (KPI)
  • Blog – Best at increasing Website Traffic/Organic Search Ranking
  • Webinars – Best at Generating Leads
  • Photos & Blogs – Best at improving Social Media Engagement
  • White Papers/eBooks – Best for Content Downloads
The best type of KPI to indicate that a specific business ROI goal will be achieved.
  • Amount of Social Media Followers/SM Engagement (KPI) – Brand Awareness (Goal)
  • Number of Leads Generated – Increased Sales
  • Quality of Leads – Increased Revenue
  • Organic Search Ranking – Reduced Cost per Conversion
Increased Sales was ranked as the top priority ROI goal with Brand Awareness coming in second.
The Number of Leads Generated ranked as the top priority KPI with Website Traffic second.

Survey Identified Factors that Pertain to How People Measure Content Marketing Results

  • Social Media Engagement, Website Traffic, Leads and Organic Search Rankings are the primary KPIs people use to assess their goals.
  • 86% of respondents said that they used Google Analytics as their primary embedded analytics tool.
  • The percentage of respondents who plan content creation, distribution and measurement within the different stages of the sales funnel:
    • 61% in the Awareness Stage
    • 47% in the Consideration Stage
    • 34% in the Decision Stage
    • 30% in the Advocate Stage
  • Unfortunately, people are not focusing enough on the Decision and Advocate stages. Nurturing relationships after someone has chosen your product/service is one of the most important aspects for customer retention.
These survey results shed light on some of the more common activities that content marketers have found to be useful. Specifically, those who rank themselves as excellent at content marketing and measuring results/ROI are exercising a content marketing lifecycle. This demonstrates that those who conduct the Content Marketing Lifecycle™ of goals, strategy, editorial calendar, produce, publish, engage and measure are showing stronger results.

Lastly, it is important to be aware of how the types of content, KPIs and ROI goals work together in generating a Return on Investment. Moreover, specific KPI measurements can serve as an indicator of the progress different ROI goals experience.